Hedge-cutting banned as Heritage Bill controversy continues

Minister for Rural Affairs Heather Humphreys is working to push the 2016 Heritage Bill through the Oireachtas

Hedge-cutting banned as Heritage Bill controversy continues

Image: BirdsMatter.ie/Twitter

Hedge-cutting and upland burning is now banned until September, as discussions proposing the shortening of cutting seasons continues. 

Minister for Rural Affairs Heather Humphreys is working to push the 2016 Heritage Bill through the Oireachtas, with proposed changes which allow for managed hedge-cutting and burning at certain times within the existing closed period on a pilot two-year basis

Currently it is illegal to cut, remove or destroy hedgerows and burn vegetation in our uplands between March 1 and August 31 in order to protect breeding birds.

Speaking in the Seanad on the issue earlier this year, Minister Humphreys said: "There have been repeated calls for this closed period to be amended and, under the proposal, managed hedge-cutting would be allowed in August and controlled burning in March, under strict criteria.

"I’m trying to strike a balance here. Hedgerows and scrubs are important for wildlife and I also want to collect more information on this during the pilot period."

An Taisce, Birdwatch Ireland, the Hedge Laying Association of Ireland and the Irish Wildlife Trust have voiced their opposition to these changes, with several groups protesting outside the Seanad today.

Farmers, however, are in favour of the bill. The Irish Farmers' Association lobbied senators last year to ensure its progress.

Figures

A total of 27 wild fires were recorded by the Irish Wildlife Trust (IWT) during the bird nesting season in 2016.

Information received from the National Parks and Wildlife Service show that only one of these fires received the required permission, the IWT said.